tesl 553language cognition and esl/curriculum development module 1 basic concepts content 1.1 about wisdom brain and evolution acosta 2006 suggested that wisdom is the ability to make decisions intelligence shaped by experience information softened by understanding not something a person is born with the product of living making mistakes listening to others who have made mistakes and learned from them the science of human happiness he further asserts that a person is born with cleverness and the ability to appear dynamic wisdom only comes from the struggles of life he emphasizes that wisdom is in short supply among leaders life will never be perfect but it can be good better and best those who know best to achieve and maintain happiness are called wise how do we learn to become wise acosta 2006 says that we begin by acknowledging the existence of wisdom and its venerable tradition nicholas maxwell a british philosopher as cited by acosta 2006 called wisdom the capacity to realize what is of value in life for us and others thus acosta believes that the embracing of high or superior values is what he calls a hallmark of wisdom furthermore high values have two roles o first they can provide illuminating slants in the data of life o second they guide the decision making process toward wiser decisions © sistema universitario ana g méndez 2012 derechos reservados.
tesl 553language cognition and esl/curriculum development decision making involves the brain processes and human values working together the human brain has three subsystems which date back to three different evolutionary eras the reptilian brain is the most rudimentary part its basic design evolved in fish amphibians and reptiles this part controls basic bodily functions such as heart rate breathing and temperature it keeps people alive and sometimes continues to do so even in brain dead people acosta 2006 affirms that territoriality nationalism that primitive value appears to be hardwired into the reptilian brain furthermore nationalism and religion which are responsible for many wars death and misery in human history are reminiscent functions of the old reptilian brain the limbic system which came with the first mammals helped them to survive because it facilitated mammals to remember experiences and linked those experiences to pleasant and unpleasant emotions acosta 2006 emphasizes that in humans the limbic systerm continues to be involved with memory and emotion the key part of the limbic system is the amygdala the amygdala monitors sensory inputs and has a hard wired program that looks for threats psychologist daniel coleman as cited by acosta 2006 described the amygdala as challenging every sensation every perception but with one kind of question in mind the most primitive is this something i hate does that hurt me something i fear if so if the moment at hand somehow draws a yes the amygdala reacts instantaneously like a neural tripwire telegraphing a message of crisis to all parts of the brain the neocortex is the potential savior from the hard programmed reactive life although it started its evolution with the higher mammals it reached its highest level of complexity in human beings different from the hard wired parts of the brain programming of the neocortex can be changed through various kinds of learning there are neural connections from the neocortex to the ancient regions of the brain as a result calls for extreme action from the amygdala and other ancient parts of the brain can be overridden by the neocortex this overridding happens if the habit has been developed not to react © sistema universitario ana g méndez 2012 derechos reservados.
tesl 553language cognition and esl/curriculum development instantaneously to the impulse to act the neocortex needs time to complete its slower but more sophisticated analysis of the situation the parts of the brain acosta 2006 establishes a comparison between the brain and a computer regarding decision making and a person s control of behavior he says that the way the brain processes and their values work together for a person to make decisions and control his/her behavior is similar to the way the hardware and software of a computer work together for it to make decisions and to control its outputs a person s decision making is a largely unconscious process in which a constantly shifting hierarchy of internalized values interacts with a constantly shifting set of perceived circumstances and retrieved memories consequently o the beliefs values and memories are the heart of the software o they work together for a person to make decisions © sistema universitario ana g méndez 2012 derechos reservados.
tesl 553language cognition and esl/curriculum development o information about the immediate situation is presented to the brain by senses the o the brain has access to memories of other situations and other decisions as well as previously acquired knowledge and perspectives o the core of this process is a person s hierarchy of internalized values o the brain takes these informational elements and arrives at a response to the situation a decision to act in some particular way or not to act at all thus values play a key role in all this process roger sperry a nobel prize winner for his research on split-brain asserts as cited by acosta 2006 that human values in addition to their commonly recognized significance from a personal philosophical standpoint can also be viewed objectively as universal determinates in all human decision making all decisions boílto a choice among alternatives of what is most valued for whatever reasons and are determined by the particular value system that prevails human value priorities viewed thus in objective control-system theory stand out as the most strategically powerful causal control now shaping world events more tan any other causal system with which science now concerns itself it is variables in human value systems that will determine the future to this acosta adds superior values and that the values of the wise produce superior decisions and superior behaviors abraham maslow studied self actualizing people who in turn had being values his reports present their behavior and mindsets these reports illustrate the nature of wisdom and values that underlie these people s behavior these self-actualizers emphasized concerns outside of themselves they liked solitude and privacy more tan the average person they tended to be more detached than ordinary from dictates and expectations of their culture they were creative and appreciated the world around them with a sense of awe and wonder © sistema universitario ana g méndez 2012 derechos reservados.
tesl 553language cognition and esl/curriculum development regarding love relationships they respected the other s individuality and felt joy at the other s successes they gave more love than most people and needed less following is a set of values that were central to these people s lives and that maslow called the being values o aliveness o beauty o completion o effortlessness o goodness o honesty o justice o perfection o playfulness o reality o richness o self-sufficiency o simplicity o truth o uniqueness o wholeness o compassion o altruism acosta 2006 asserts that to understand what values are in control people need to work back from behavior their own behavior and that of other people people s deepest values are revealed by how people actually live their lives acosta further adds that somehow people must move these values from their heads to their hearts they must internalize them coming to a clearer understanding about how people make decisions choosing the influences to which they subject themselves and practicing wise behavior are crucial © sistema universitario ana g méndez 2012 derechos reservados.
tesl 553language cognition and esl/curriculum development thusly wisdom is a state of the human mind characterized by profound understanding and deep insight it is often but not necessarily accompanied by extensive formal knowledge unschooled people can acquire wisdom and wise people can be found among carpenters fishermen and housewives shows itself as a perception of the relativity and relationships among things is where left and right brain come together and where self-awareness is no longer at odds with awareness of the otherness of the world cannot be confined to a specialized field is not an academic discipline is the consciousness of wholeness and integrity that transcends both is complexity understood and relationship accepted acosta 2006 contends that wilderness is to nature as wisdom is to consciousness wilderness is a complex of natural relationships where plants animals and the land collaborate to fulfill their environment without technological human interference is a systemic complex so intricate that it often appears chaotic to the eyes accustomed to simple contexts such as farms or cities environments are integrated places where multiplicity makes sense and complex order is evident he affirms that there are good reasons to believe that wisdom grew from wilderness environments people s brains acquired their basic characteristics in response to the conditions of wilderness living what people have inherited from history a multileveled brain linked to their bodily functions and to their natural environments is a good instrument to comprehending the world in its wilderness complexity people are capable of perceiving a dimensional world of feeling deeply about it of relating to one another and to other species in a large variety of ways hence it appears that people are well evolved for wholeness and equipped for wisdom the later years of life are perhaps says acosta the most important times to experience natural wilderness © sistema universitario ana g méndez 2012 derechos reservados.
tesl 553language cognition and esl/curriculum development for those years are often accompanied by a readiness to comprehend complexity that is not present earlier referring to dante alighieri who wrote commedia in the fourteenth century acosta says that diversity is the clearest feature of dante s earthly paradise the entire work demonstrates that the state of the natural environments in which people live reflect the state of human cognition and civilized development people all find themselves in the environments they deserve reflecting on their values and their beliefs therefore preserving wilderness is human self-preservation wilderness is nature s way of being wise and wisdom is the mind s way of being natural © sistema universitario ana g méndez 2012 derechos reservados.